Former New Jersey state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. won the six-way GOP primary in the Garden State’s closely watched 7th Congressional District on Tuesday, setting up a November rematch with Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski.
With 66% of the expected vote in, Kean led the field with 45%, followed by Phil Rizzo, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in New Jersey’s 2021 gubernatorial race with 23% and District 23 Assemblyman Erik Peterson with 16% .
Kean’s other challengers in the suburban district, which encompasses Hunterdon County, and parts of Essex, Morris, Somerset, Union, and Warren counties, included Township Mayor John Flora and businessman John Isemann.
National Republicans have eyed the 7th District as a potential pickup opportunity as they try to regain control of the House of Representatives after four years in the minority.
Malinowski, who is going for a third term in Congress, defeated Kean — the son of former New Jersey Republican Gov. Tom Kean Sr. — by just 1.2 percentage points in 2020.
Since then, Malinowski has faced repeated ethics complaints over his stock trades. In October of last year, the House Office of Congressional Ethics said there was “substantial reason to believe” he violated federal conflict-of-interest rules by failing to disclose dozens of share transactions during 2019 and 2020.
Malinowski has maintained his failure to come clean about the trades was a careless oversight.
He trounced challenger Roger Bacon Tuesday in the Democratic primary, earning 95% of the vote to Bacon’s 5% with a third of all polling precincts reporting when the race was called.
During his campaign, Kean linked Democrats to Biden’s unpopularity, the high cost of living and inflation.
With AP wires